The Digital Community: ‘Community’, Really?


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Sitting across the lecture room a thought very intriguing sprung on to me. The lecture entailed a story of how the new digital, information or knowledge age has diminished the geographical and physical limitations to what people call their community. This made me think of new alternative factors that people based their sense of longing and community on the basis of. What was it that people now meant community was, if it wasn’t your area, town or nation?

The sense of community people found amongst them is now, perhaps based on similar interests, needs, mutually beneficial relationships and ideas. It all sounds very welcoming and productive- You only relate to people and things who share common interests and goals in life and are beneficial to you in some way.

But I thought about what this has done to the society in general? The most obvious impact was less tolerance of people towards anything that’s undesirable. As we can now find things better and more relevant to our interests, why settle for something unpleasing? This would all be okay, until it is applied to the way communities- made of people with hearts and heads- interact with each other. If you could find anyone with similar interests, does that mean the value of human relationships in general would be undermined? This also explains why the world has become so materialistic. With growing ‘digital community’ your longing depends lesser and lesser on emotions, feelings and humanistic factors. People are drawn more towards ‘information’ that people can share and have in common. But is this ‘de-sensitized community’ able to thrive in both the health and the sickness? The boom and the recession? The happiness and the sadness? The failure and the success? If community is bonded by sharing of relevant information, what happens when an individual – with heart and head – becomes unable to be a part of that information system? 

This scenario might seem a bit extreme, as the community we live in is not purely digital- but it is moving towards one, with every technological revolution that replaces the physical with digital and sensation with information.

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